Recommendations to make the time change easier during daylight saving time
Ready or not — daylight saving time arrives this Sunday. And while a time change can feel exhausting for many of us, it doesn’t have to be.
Here’s what happens during a time change. Our internal clock, known as the human circadian system, operates on chemical rhythms that tell your body when to sleep and when to be awake. These rhythms develop out of consistent schedules, and can be difficult to change. Believe it or not, even just one hour makes a noticeable, and sometimes difficult, transition for many people. This can last up to ten days.
To help, we recommend gradually transitioning into the time change by making small adjustments a few days before. Remember, if your summer bedtime was 10 p.m., after daylight saving time, your body may not feel ready to go to bed until 11 p.m. This may cause problems falling asleep and waking up at preferred times.
Fortunately, there are ways to ease the transition. Follow these daylight saving time tips to get your best night’s rest and wake up energized for days to come:
- Adjust your schedule. Start by going to bed 15 minutes later a few days before the time change. Avoiding screens and dimming lights in the later part of the evening will help by prompting your brain to release melatonin, which initiates a sense of sleepiness.
- Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime ritual. Being exhausted is not the same as being sleepy. Physical exhaustion requires time to relax and unwind, which should be done prior to heading to bed.
- Rise and shine at the same time, even on the weekends.Even though you may not feel like getting up at the same time you would for work or school on a Saturday, a fixed routine helps your body regulate its sleep pattern and get the most out of the hours you sleep. Exposing yourself to as much sunlight as possible during early morning hours also helps.
- Avoid long naps. As luxurious as napping sounds, long naps can dramatically affect the quality of your nighttime sleep. If you need to nap, try limiting it to 15–20 minutes in the late morning or early afternoon.
- Exercise regularly. Even moderate exercise, such as walking for 30 minutes three times a week, can help you sleep better. Just be sure you finish 2–3 hours before bedtime. Exercise raises body temperature which can interfere with falling asleep.
- Watch what you drink and eat before bedtime. Avoid caffeine after 5 p.m. and if you are hungry, eat small snacks, not large meals. And while alcohol might make you feel sleepy, it also disrupts your sleep during the second half of the night.
Proper sleep is a key element in living a healthy lifestyle. Poor sleep can lead to a host of health problems, especially if you choose to ignore it. So as you fall back, keep these daylight saving time tips in mind to get your best sleep and be energized during the day. If sleep problems persist, be sure to talk with your doctor or contact one of Mercy Health’s sleep centers if sleep issues don’t improve. Visit mercy.com or call 513-952-5000 to find a doctor near you today.